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review 2018-07-17 02:35
An American Killing ★☆☆☆☆
An American Killing - Mary-Ann Tirone Smith

Ugh. It started off so well. The characters seemed interesting and the writing was okay and I was curious to know more about the powerful politician found dead in an apparently accidental case of autoerotic asphyxiation, but maybe was murdered instead. Then it all went to heck on page 18, when the first person narrator suddenly began swinging between present tense and past tense, the story became clogged with celebrity name-dropping, and it became painfully obvious that the author was drawing so heavily on the Ann Rule/Ted Bundy story that it completely kicked me out of the story. I did power through to page 50, but there’s no way I could bring myself to finish the book.

 

DNF on page 50. Hardcover, purchased years ago on a whim from a clearance table at a big box bookstore that has long since gone out of business.

 

Previous Updates:

7/15/18 – 15/368 pg

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review 2018-07-14 05:43
On the Divinity of Second Chances ★☆☆☆☆
On the Divinity of Second Chances - Kaya McLaren

I hate first person present tense. Even worse, though, is a story told from the alternating viewpoints of five separate characters, when all five use first person present tense. ALL FIVE. The only exception is the opening passage, which is written from the moon’s (literally, the moon) POV… in third person present tense. Hell, for all I know, we are also treated to the dog and the imaginary friend as narrators in first person present tense, but I only got to page 37 before I closed the book and threw it across the room at the garbage can.

 

Paperback, which has been sitting unread on my bookshelf for so long that I no longer remember when or why I even bought it. I suspect it was a recommendation from the (now defunct) Books on the Nightstand podcast.

 

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review 2017-11-11 14:33
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere ★★★☆☆
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere - Z.Z. Packer

I was enchanted with this book of short stories at first, but gradually lost enthusiasm as I progressed through the short stories. I love the author’s ability to draw characters through their actions and interactions with each other and their environment. I love her ability to create a sense of place and how her characters fit in that setting. I love the little thought-provoking moments in each story. But there was an unrelenting sameness to the stories. She likes Shirley Jackson-ish main characters: young people who live too much in their own heads, socially-awkward, alternating between remaining passively and resentfully where they are and impulsively jumping into situations that they then don’t know how to extricate themselves from. She also doesn’t seem to know how to wrap a story up. Most of them just end abruptly, like the author just ran out of things to say. Of the eight short stories, the best were “Brownies” and “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere”

 

Paperback copy, which I will donate to the library as I don’t keep paperbacks that I rated fewer than 4 stars. Although this book has been on my physical TBR for two years, I don’t remember what prompted me to buy it. It was probably something I read when I was looking for TBR recs when I started the Book Riot challenge for We Need Diverse Books.

 

I read it for The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 16 December 26th-31st: Book themes for Kwanzaa: Read a book written by an author of African descent or a book set in Africa, or whose cover is primarily red, green or black. The author, ZZ Packer, is African-American.

 

Previous Updates:

11/9/17 82/265pg

11/10/17 210/265pg

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review 2017-11-07 23:19
All the Breaking Waves ★☆☆☆☆
All the Breaking Waves: A Novel - Kerry Lonsdale, Dara Rosenberg

Update @ 10%

Okay, I’ve given it a full hour of audio time, or 10% of the total book, which is more than double my minimum 20 minutes that I usually give before DNF’ing a book. It’s just not well-written. The narrative gives details from a first person point of view that normally belong to a 3rd person POV, even sometimes making observations that would be belong to 3rd person omniscient. It’s just not plausible that someone is going to be so continuously self-aware of their own involuntary body language. This woman is so internally focused it’s a wonder she’s able to interact with the outside world at all. And the choice of telling us every damn moment to moment detail is exhausting. Who cares that she sighed before standing up and that she carried some bins (that were not critical to the scene or events) to her car. Or that they packed and loaded their car before setting off on an out of town trip? It's like death by a thousand paper cuts. 

 

Anyway, DNF at 10%. Dara Rosenberg’s reading was okay, but it couldn’t elevate the source material. Returned the book to Audible for a refund. I guess I’ll have to find another book for The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season, Square 2 - Read a book that takes place on the sea, near the sea, or on a lake or a river, or read a book that has water on the cover.

 

Previous post @ 7%

I looked over at Cassie, and my breath caught in my throat. She stood, frozen, her eyes moonlike circles as she stared at me. Her face paled. My heart lurched. I knew that look, and swore under my breath. Not another premonition. Give the girl a break. Cassie shrieked, and I jerked. The phone slipped from my fingers. She screamed again, high pitched, curdling my blood. What had she seen? Who had she seen? I glanced around the park. There wasn’t anyone we knew. She always knew the people in her visions.

 

“Mommy!” She ran to me and slammed into my stomach. She pounded me with her fists, still screaming my name. This was a bad one. The worst one yet. I couldn’t imagine the nightmares she’d have this time.

 

How can this author use so many words to convey so little? This writing style is just not engaging at all. I feel as though I’m just being fed information.

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review 2017-07-07 02:27
Don’t Look Down ★★☆☆☆
Don't Look Down - Bob Mayer,Jennifer Crusie

This degenerated from silly but cute to just plain old stupid. The plot is an unnecessarily convoluted and nonsensical plot that somehow injects

terrorists and mobsters and FBI and CIA and money laundering and stolen ancient artifacts

(spoiler show)

into a Romance. Maybe it’s being purposefully meta, since that’s apparently what’s happened to the hot mess of a movie that our heroine has been hired to finish.

 

This heroine and her hero, ugh. She knows the guy for all of three days, and hasn’t even slept with him, thinks he doesn’t even have any romantic or sexual interest in her at all, but she’s considering moving herself and her family from NY & LA, respectively, to a swamp in Florida so he can be a part of her life. Then she just literally walks into a swamp in the dark in hopes of finding him so she can have sex with him. And she does! And they do! And it’s awesome! No bugs or anything.

 

I think it was at this point that I got so frustrated with this story, and cared so little about the characters or what happened to them, that it took real willpower to power on to the end rather than DNFing. I got through it by cheering on the alligator.

 

Hardcover version. I read this for the 2017 Booklikes-opoly square Cars Land 18: Read a book that was published in 2006, 2011, 2013, or 2014, the years of Cars and its sequels, or that has a car on the cover. This book was published in 2006.

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